PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley is putting the Obama administration on blast, accusing some members of the group of intimidation. He told the Associated Press that some of his sponsors were pressured to drop him during his anti-poverty campaign.
AP’s Lynn Elber reported, “Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the PBS show’s underwriter since the start, has ‘consistently stood by our side. But others have dropped out or donated money to his projects on the condition of privacy because they’ve heard from a displeased White House, according to Smiley.”
Smiley’s camp gave no evidence or names of underwriters who were pressured.
Leshelle V. Sargent, a spokeswoman for Smiley, told Journal-isms, “After 10 years and 2,000 shows on PBS, Mr. Smiley appreciates all of his underwriters. We are uninterested in subjecting former, present or future supporters to further scrutiny.”
Smiley told AP, “This administration does not like to be criticized. And the irony of it is, there’s nothing I have tried to hold the president accountable on that my white progressive colleagues have not. They’re labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I’m an ‘Obama critic.’ There’s race at play in the very question.”
Smiley has built his career upon social political issues, highlighting the true to life struggles of racial America. Since Obama was elected to office, Smiley’s focus and platform has gained more attention.